This is the second installment out of three. The story of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s raid through the Indiana Territory is one of the most interesting phases of the Civil War and was one of the most well-known Confederate campaigns conducted through Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana during the summer of 1863.
We had left off as the confederate troops of general Morgan’s had reached the town of Corydon the evening of July 10, leaving eleven (11) wounded soldiers to be cared for by the citizens of the town, they began their advancement on Salem as they marched in two columns. Morgan delayed a few hours in Palmyra while one column of his troops looted Paoli and another Greenville, in Floyd County. After dispersing of the home guard at Salem they occupied and thoroughly plundered the town. Men were seen, it is said, riding around carrying all sorts of booty. One cavalryman had a bird cage with three canaries in it, and others had bolts of calico tied to their saddles. However, no examples of personal violence or cruelty were reported.
Leaving Salem in two columns they headed for Lexington. One column crossed the Jeffersonville and Indianapolis Railroad at Henryville, in Clark County while the other went by the way of Canton, New Philadelphia and Leota and, at approximately six o’clock, they arrived at the same railroad in Vienna.
At Vienna, the railroad station and the telegraph operator were captured before the operator could give the alarm. General Morgan put one of his own men, Lieutenant Ellsworth who knew how to operate the telegraph, in charge of the office. He listened on the wires until he had learned all the news to be obtained from Louisville and Indianapolis, including the fact that orders had been issued to the Militia to fell timber and blockade the principle roads which the invaders would likely to travel to the east. According to Duke “our rapid marching had, hitherto, saved us this annoyance.” They also learned in this manner that the Union forces under Hobson had crossed the Ohio River and were only a few miles behind them.
They learned that the state was virtually swarming with soldiers and that every train entering Indiana was bringing additional forces. The Raiders did all they possibly could to hamper the pursuit of the Union Cavalry, such as burning all the bridges. Their system of horse stealing was almost perfect. They would dispatch men from the head of each brigade to go five (5) miles into the country on each side of the road. They would seize every available horse and fall in at the rear of the column. In this manner the Confederate troops swept the countryside of all horses for ten miles, leaving their own worn-out animals for the use of the Union forces.
According to Goodrich in his Illustrated history of Indiana (1875), the Scott County farmer ruefully said, “many are the farmers through this county who have bewailed the day when they ‘swapped’ their fine, fat, sleek horses for the worn-out, sore backed jades of the Rebels!” The fine blooded Kentucky horses, however, which wee left behind in Indiana, though worn-out, were such good stock that the breed of Indiana horses was greatly improved.
At both Henryville and Vienna the railroad depots were burned, the tracks torn up and the telegraph wires cut. At Vienna they also burnt the water station, the turntable and a railroad bridge which spanned Pigeon Roost Creek. All of these structures were built of wood, as was custom tin that period. In Vienna they also robbed the stores and private homes.
According to an article in the Scott County Journal of September 1924, written by Alice Jones, Morgan’s Raiders reached Lexington on July 4, 1863. “On the fourth of July, 1963, the little town of Lexington had arranged a celebration of the nation’s independence.” The boys too young for the army and the few elderly citizens dragged the old brass cannon that had been presented to the county by General Charles Scott, to the eastern slope of graveyard hill and greeted the early dawn with war-like thunder until the powder ran out.
“Beside the courthouse in the center of the public square surrounded by a grove of Locust trees a platform was set up with benches facing it. A bench from the courthouse hall was on the platform for the speakers and prominent citizens who would be participating in the simple program.” There was no special music for too many boys had gone over the hill to the strains of “The Girl I Left Behind Me” and the drummers and fifers had followed.
“The audience was small, consisting mostly of women. Someone read the Declaration of Independence and a minister prayed and then introduced a Union soldier, a refugee from the South.”
“In a few simple words this soldier told what it meant to be a Union soldier below the lines and the many hardships he endured before reaching the Union army. Sitting immediately behind him was a southern sympathizer from Kentucky who had fled north when his neighbors had made it too warm for him in neutral Kentucky, and perhaps a half of a dozen Rebel sympathizers, ‘Copperheads’ as they were called. The soldier spoke in warm praise of Mr. Lincoln and Governor Morton and convincingly of the success of the Union Army.”
“The Kentucky rebel sprang to his feet and shouted, “you are a liar! There are many Yankee bones bleaching on the southern soil and there will be many more before this unholy war will be beaten and the glorious south will be triumphant!” A Copperhead on the platform jumped up shouting, “Hurray for Jefferson Davis!” At that point the women rose as one and started for the platform. One elderly lady, who had two sons in the army, pointing her parasol and pushed her way through the crowd said, “let me get him. I’ll pull every hair out of his head!” The Rebel was hustled off the platform by his friends and hurried away from the crowd… as the meeting broke up in some confusion. During this program, General Morgan and his Raiders were making their way towards Lexington.
The stories conclusion will be posted next Tuesday, August 11, 2020.